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February 01, 2010

"Mentor" to alleged phone tamperers blogged about dirty tricks with phones

Justin Elliott of TPM Muckraker points to a new story in the New York Times about Ben Wetmore, a 28-year-old conservative activist who let anti-ACORN provocateur James O'Keefe and his merry band crash at his New Orleans home prior to their arrest for allegedly attempting to tamper with Sen. Mary Landrieu's phones. 

According to the New York Times, Wetmore was a mentor to a network of right wing provocateurs who embraced various forms of political theater to dramatize their issues on college campuses. Marcy Wheeler's commenter cinnamonape connected the dots between Ben Wetmore and James O'Keefe last Friday.

The page now redirects automatically to Newsbusters. A WHOIS search for that domain delivers no information. However, the cached version looks like the personal blog of the now infamous Ben Wetmore, campus provocateur.

The cached site is Countermedia. The author, who replies to blog commenters under the name "Ben" writes bitterly about his tenure the Leadership Institute, the conservative group where Wetmore and O'Keefe used to work. Amongst other things, Ben assails the Leadership Institute for trying to take undeserved credit for O'Keefe's early video successes. "All the good things at the Institute while I was there happened despite the management, or by going around them. I was nearly fired, as was my boss [former] Cong. Steve Stockman, for buying the initial video equipment that James [O'Keefe] used," Ben wrote last September. He seemed especially bitter that the LI hired and fired idealistic young conservatives capriciously. Where's a union when you need one, eh? 

This post, dated Oct 21, 2009, survives in the Google cache:

Disrupting speeches on the cheap

Leftists disrupt speeches by throwing pies, calling names, and chanting stupid stuff.

So uncreative.

Personally I've given advice to disrupt malcontents like Michael Moore using track phones going off with obscenely loud ringers in various locations, as well as a variety of other crazy schemes that I'd rather not go into.

In a cached post dated Sept. 18, 2009 at floats the idea of impersonating Barack Obama in a robocall.

[Original reporting, please credit Lindsay Beyerstein.]

The post about disrupting speeches is at least partly a joke. How seriously can you take a post where the punchline involves interrupting lefty campus speakers with fake orgasms? Though Ben's claim to have encouraged phone pranks to disrupt lefty speakers should raise red flags. He was a campus activist who traveled around advising college conservatives on disruptive tactics.

But in another cached post, Ben seems to be seriously advocating a dirty tricks robocall to sway elderly voters by impersonating Barack Obama:

Healthcare Independent Expenditure idea

(I wrote this up and sent it to a few friends who I thought could tell me if it was a decent idea or not. Only one responded, and even then without saying whether it was a good idea or not. I'm getting the feeling that I'm either past my prime or unable to get any political scheme funded or people interested anymore. So, I'm posting it here in the resigned defeat of watching another political idea die on the vine.)

Healthcare Independent Expenditure idea

1. Get a voice artist who sounds similar to President Obama

2. Identify and rent lists of elderly likely voters in key areas

a. Senate

Colorado – Bennett
Arkansas – Lincoln
North Dakota – Dorgan

b. House

South Dakota – Herseth
(other potentials)

c. Legal limitations
Check for states where the most favorable regulatory regime exists:

3. Record a short spot using the voice artist:

Sterile female voice:
Please hold for a fake message from the President Barack Obama

Obama voice artist:
Good afternoon seniors,
I want to talk to you for a moment about healthcare reform. I know many of you are concerned about losing Medicare and Medicaid benefits and likely cuts to Social Security that will be necessary to pay for my healthcare reforms. However, I want to ask you to end the divisiveness on this issue and support me. I know what’s best for you and even if we do take your benefits, tax your healthcare plan or increase taxes, it will be worth it to provide healthcare to those who can’t afford it. So, please stop opposing me and trust me.
Thank you.

4. Robocall lists with this message. Distribute .mp3 file to other organizations with robodialers.

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The blog is a fascinating compendium of organizing tactics, movie reviews, and more, um, personal entries. Ben confesses to being a girl drink drunk; he rails against the "lazy bureaucrats" who put up signs telling him he can't wander around an abandoned public asylum; and he asserts that ACLU head Nadine Strossen has no pupils (and therefore reminds him of a demon).  Perhaps the weirdest post is the one from last June featuring an animated .gif of Ben's own design framing the slogan "Obama says girls don't poop."

Wetmore made his mark in 2002 by insisting on his First Amendment right to videotape a campus appearance by Tipper Gore at American University without her permission. Just goes to show nobody's all bad.


Any connection to Charles McGee, Jim Tobin, or Allen Raymond of the NH dirty tricks?

there's also a halfway decent explanation for the 'girls don't poop' thing, a friend asked me to make it, it wasn't my idea.

That's a find!

But what is "a girl drink drunk" that Ben confesses to being?

"a girl drink drunk" is a subspecies of twerp.

If you're still into looking for stuff in that midden, this one's kinda cute: Link

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